Hundreds gather to pay respects to slain Texas officer

By Sarah Moore
The Beaumont Enterprise 
Officer Down: Lisa Beaulieu

BEAUMONT, Tex. — Friends remembered a "girly girl" with a passion for fashion who loved her family, friends and her two dogs.

An uncle recalled a niece who considered becoming a mechanic before deciding on law enforcement.

A neighbor remembered a kind young woman who often brought her thoughtful gifts.

But almost everyone remembered how proud she was the day she was sworn in as a Beaumont Police Officer -- and how hard she worked to make that dream come true.

Relatives, friends and fellow officers gathered Sunday at Broussard's Mortuary to recall a Beaumont police officer who will be sadly missed.

Officer Lisa Beaulieu, 36, died Friday after a car plowed into her at the scene of a motorcycle accident where she was directing traffic.

She was the first female officer in Southeast Texas to die in the line of duty. Hundreds turned out Sunday to pay their respects to Beaulieu.

Photos of Beaulieu taken the day she became a police officer were on display amongst crosses from her home.

Flowers draped a coffin where an honor guard stood in silent vigil throughout the visitation -- Beaulieu had not been alone for even a minute since the tragic accident that mortally wounded her, relatives said.

But even after she is buried, those who knew her will forever cherish the memories Beaulieu left them.

One of her dearest friends, Erin Smith last got together with Beaulieu for dinner about a month ago.

Smith was trying to fix her up with a fellow she knew who had a crush on Beaulieu -- a not infrequent occurrence. Beaulieu wasn't interested.

Smith laughed as she remembered Beaulieu telling men who were hitting on her she was a driver's education instructor.

"She was such a cut-up -- but when she put on her uniform, she was a police officer."

But it was the quiet times, sitting with Beaulieu on her swing, drinking coffee and talking "about everything and nothing," Smith will miss the most.

"I'm going to miss her like crazy," Smith said. "She had a smile that lit up a room."

Beaulieu's uncle, Dennis Ligda of Clayburn, said before Beaulieu decided to enter law enforcement, she briefly considered becoming an auto mechanic. "I told her, 'Whatever you want to do, you can do. Hang in there,'" he said.

She appeared to have taken that advice.

Beaulieu fought hard for her dream of becoming a police officer.

Her biggest hurdle was passing the tests involving physical strength, relatives said. Beaulieu, a small, slight woman, worked out with weights and didn't give up until she had achieved her goal.

She began working for the Beaumont Police Department as a dispatcher in 1997, becoming an officer in 2001.

Retired Police Chief Tom Scofield went to pay his respects to an officer he swore to duty six years ago.

Scofield said he vividly remembered the happy day that the dispatcher graduated to officer -- it was a pleasure to see someone so dedicated -- and so excited to become an officer.

"She was quite a girl -- she always had a smile on her face and was a joy to be around. I was glad I had an opportunity to know her," he said.

Officers from other Southeast Texas agencies attended as did state troopers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel.

A retired Orange County Sheriff's deputy, Jon C. Nicholas, said he had only met Beaulieu in passing, but came to console Beaulieu's parents and let them know the entire law enforcement family stood by them in their sorrow.

"Even though I didn't know her personally, she's family. Everybody that's got one of these," he said, tapping the badge on his chest, "is family."

The funeral is set for 11 a.m. today at the Beaumont Civic Center.

Burial at Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches will follow the service.

Copyright (c) 2007, The Beaumont Enterprise



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